From Nuggets to Feast: My Bible Study Journey
On my fridge are 3 simple lists of things my kids need to do for their morning, afternoon, and evening routines. They say things like, “Pick out tomorrow’s school uniforms,” and “Put library books in backpacks.” In theory, they’re supposed to streamline each day’s transitions.
But in reality, our mornings are regularly pierced by frantic wails of, “I CAN’T FIND A CLEAN SHIRT!!” or “WAIT!! I FORGOT MY LIBRARY BOOK!!” My response is usually to say, with exasperation, “You guys, those are ON THE LISTS! I made those lists to help you, so you could avoid these stressful problems!” Though I’ve provided everything necessary for my kids to have success and peace in these areas, it doesn’t do any good until they actually look at the lists and follow them. (What can I say…we’re working on it).
In some ways, this reminds me of what’s changed since I began more substantive, comprehensive Bible studies.
Previously, my Bible study time was a scattershot stab wherever I happened to find myself in the Scripture on a given day, usually with a feast-or-famine sort of inconsistency. Perhaps you can relate to this. I still found much to be edified by, because, after all, God’s Word achieves its purpose (Isaiah 55:10-11).
Yet I was wholly unfamiliar with huge sections of the Bible, and, having never had formal training, there were important skills for studying the Bible that I lacked. For instance, I often didn’t take into consideration the genre of the book I was reading, the context in which it was written, or how it fit in with the larger message of Scripture. In short, I knew I was missing so much.
I hadn’t anticipated the level of change that would occur when I began more complete, purposeful Bible study time with other women. I began attending Community Bible Study while living in Colorado, and now I attend Bible Study Fellowship in Oregon. These studies share the same purpose: Encouraging believers in daily, in-depth, verse-by-verse study of God’s Word while providing guidance in understanding things like genre, context, etc.
Studying this way has profoundly impacted my life. It’s changed how I pray and worship, how I interpret the news and events in my own life, and how I interact with others. But unlike my fridge lists, the Bible is far more than just a helpful “how-to” manual. While I do have a clearer sense of what I should do, what is much more important is that I have a clearer understanding of who God is and what he is doing.
Let me show you what I mean. My first year, we did a 30-week study of 1 & 2 Kings, cross-referencing 1 & 2 Chronicles and the minor prophets. Since the history and prophecy books were largely new to me, I was excited—but also uneasy. I wondered about spending that long in a part of the Bible where I (perhaps unconsciously) thought I’d encounter the “Old Testament God.” On some level, I thought of God as being more full of wrath in the Old Testament, and more filled with mercy in the New Testament.
But throughout the study, I saw God to be astoundingly longsuffering with his people, though they were consistently disobedient. He was fervent for justice and righteousness, and would spare no discipline to correct their sin. The purpose of this, however, was to reach his single-minded goal of saving his people from themselves and reconciling them to himself (Hosea 13:14, Micah 5:2-5a). He remains the same today, and this study revealed to me that God was, is, and always will be “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster” (Joel 2:13).
Year after year, as I study through other books of the Bible, I see the faithful continuity of God’s character and purpose. Rather than disjointed, loosely related moral stories, the whole Bible testifies to God’s continued commitment to the rescue of his people, by providing salvation from sin and death through the sinless life, sacrificial death, and miraculous resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23, Revelation 5:9).
Like my little fridge to-do lists, God gives us Scripture for our benefit, because in it, he’s provided everything necessary for us to know him and his plan, to be filled with faith, confidence, and peace, and to give glory and honor to his name as a result of our understanding. But these benefits are ours only if we actually study the Bible and take heed.
The Verity Fellowship’s central purpose is to equip women with a rich understanding of Scripture, centering on the principle message of salvation through the gospel of Jesus. Whether you minister in an official capacity, or, like me, simply desire to represent Jesus well to friends, neighbors, and our children, God desires all of us to be well-equipped to do so. Their spring event, Verity Forum, takes place on May 7th. It offers workshops to strengthen and clarify our understanding of Scripture, that we would be prepared to know Christ and to make him known.
Arianne is a wife and mother of four. She and her family recently moved from Colorado to Portland for her husband's work with Humble Beast records. Having always had a love of writing, Arianne hopes to pursue the opportunities the Lord gives her to use this gift.
The Verity Forum is our spring event on May 7th. You can read more about the Verity Forum on the events page.